Egypt activists rebuke constitution
|Friday, December 25,2009 08:44|
|By Ahmed Janabi|
Controversy over article 76 of the Egyptian constitution has now resurfaced after Amr Mousa, the general-secretary of the Arab League and a former Egyptian foreign minister, said it is an obstacle preventing him from running for the presidency.
The sixth annual conference of NDP members convened in early November without naming a candidate for the 2011 elections.
Addressing party members, Mubarak said it was too early to talk about the party's nominee.
This, however, did little to end speculation and rumours.
Observers inside and outside Egypt were puzzled further when media reports suggested that Amr Mousa, Mohamed el Baradei, the former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Ahmed Zuweil, an Egyptian scientist who won the Nobel prize in chemistry, were all potential candidates.
These candidates may not be able to participate in the presidential elections, however, because of difficulties in meeting the requirements of Egyptian electoral law.
In 2007, the Egyptian government amended the constitution.
The Egyptian opposition accuses Mubarak's ruling party of amending the constitution in favour of its candidates.
Mustafa al-Tawil says: "We have something called the Parties Committee. Actually, it should be named the Parties Banning Committee. This committee has acted like a buffer zone to protect the ruling party by denying opposition figures licenses to form political parties.
"To throw sand in the eyes, they allow from time to time parties formed by people backed by the authority and the ruling party. I will give you an example of what kind of competitors the regime allows; Ahmed al-Sabahi, a presidential candidate in the 2005 presidential elections, said back then that he gave his vote to his competitor, the current president Hosni Mubarak."
However, Majid Putros, a member of the NDP's policy committee, rebuts this.
"We have put a condition that an eligible candidate must get the approvals of 5 per cent of elected councils like parliament, Shoura Council etc. We think it is logical, if a person cannot secure 5 per cent of people's support, how can he run the country?"
But, al-Tawil calls for a fundamental change to the whole set up.
"Our prime demand is to change the ruling system from a presidential system to a parliamentary one," he explains.
He would also like to restore juridical supervision of the voting process.
"About the electoral system, we echo other opposition parties' demands, however, I would like to stress on restoring judicial control over the voting process. It is vital to win the trust of the opposition and voters in the whole process."
President Mubarak's speech at the 6th annual NDP conference completely ignored the row over his succession, leaving many questions by both the opposition and the public unanswered.
A few days before the conference, Ahmed Nazif, the Egyptian prime minister, stated that Gamal was a potential candidate if Mubarak decided not to run, further enforcing speculation that Mubarak is preparing his son to succeed him.
"Gamal was elected as head of our committee in 2000. It means the appointment was made 11 years before the 2011 elections. He was elected for the post only to make use of his experience in politics and economy," says Putros.
While the issue of Gamal succeeding his father has created waves among opposition parties and their supporters, political dynasties can be found around the region and beyond.
Opposition parties, however, have a different take on the issue.
"We feel like most of the opposition parties about the possibility of Gamal taking over the presidency. If he runs for presidency in a fair atmosphere where he is not privileged as the son of the president, then we do not have a problem with that."
"It is not a taboo if a person tries to secure his son in his position even as a president, but the taboo is to ban competition and to use the father's authority to produce a tailor-made system to suit his son, and to deny others their right in engaging in a legitimate competition."